Vestiaire Collective revealed Thursday that it has scooped up B Corp certification, the world’s first secondhand e-tailer to do so. Not only does the move mark a significant step for the company, it said, but it also provides a ringing endorsement for pre-loved as a sustainable business model. Vestiaire Collective joins the likes of Allbirds, Eileen Fisher and Patagonia in receiving the designation.
“We are incredibly proud to become the world’s first globally operating B Corp-certified resale platform,” Fanny Moizant, co-founder and CEO of the France-headquartered firm, said in a statement. “It’s a huge step on our way to transforming the fashion industry. Vestiaire Collective was born with the idea that we can drive change for a more sustainable future. Today, this recognition is more evidence that we can make it.”
The “benefit corporation” designation has been described as the business equivalent of the Fair Trade label for coffee and the USDA organic seal for milk. So-called B Corps, according to B Lab, the Pennsylvania-based social enterprise that administers the certification, are required to uphold rigorous standards of social and ecological performance. This includes changing their bylaws to consider the impact of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, the community and the environment.
Before it can qualify as a B Corp, however, a company must first score at least 80 out of 200 points on a protracted questionnaire. Vestiaire Collective said it performed particularly well in the “workers” and “governance” sections, noting for instance, that it extends to every employee at its global outposts in Berlin, New York and Singapore the same benefits its French staffers receive. All executive members are also “incentivized and involved” with its sustainability and inclusion initiatives, demonstrating Vestiaire Collective’s financial commitment to materializing “concrete action.”
By recirculating castoffs, Vestiaire Collective already avoids fashion production’s deleterious environmental impact, it said. By 2025, the e-tailer plans to become “net climate benefit,” meaning it will capture more carbon emissions than it generates. Meanwhile, the firm is encouraging more active participation from consumers. It created a “fashion activist” badge that members who are both sellers and buyers can unlock. Its Brand Approved service, launched earlier this year, also enables fashion brands such as Alexander McQueen to integrate resale into their value chains.
“We are thrilled to have Vestiaire Collective join our community of over 4,000 B Corps around the world,” said Augustin Boulot, executive director at B Lab France. “As the resale industry continues to grow exponentially, we are excited to see players like Vestiaire Collective pave the way for a better way to do business, inspiring both companies and individuals to put people and the planet first.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has only supercharged resale’s upward trajectory. Over the next five years, the secondhand apparel market is set to double in value to $77 billion, according to analytics firm GlobalData. Vestiaire Collective has seen its own business boom, it said, with the number of transactions growing twofold since 2019. The platform boasts some 11 million members and adds 550,000 new listings every month.
In March, the company closed a 178 million-euro ($210.5-million) investment round led by Alexander McQueen owner Kering, which acquired a 5 percent minority stake. It has a valuation above $1 billion, imbuing it with the coveted unicorn status. Now, the company wants to challenge other resale platforms, fashion brands and stakeholders to take on the B Corp certification and serve as a “force for good” in an industry that tends to prioritize profits above all else.
“After having created our sustainability and inclusion team a year and a half ago, it is a great reward to be awarded this certification,” said Dounia Wone, chief sustainability and inclusion officer at Vestiaire Collective. “It is the result of unprecedented collective mobilization and we would like to thank and congratulate our colleagues, community, partners and our investors who all have contributed to this success. This prestigious certification will hopefully inspire other members of the ecosystem. To that end, we are ready to share tips for the certification process as part of our commitment to create a more sustainable fashion industry.”